Three mothers of young girls in Turkey’s Kurdish-majority province of Diyarbakır (Amed) said that there have been numerous incidents of sexual harrassment involving their daughters at their primary school, and that there have been attempts at a cover-up through inefficient investigation and neglect on the part of the prosecutor, reported Mezopotamya News Agency (MA).
The incidents, which have supposedly been going on for some time, only started to come to light when the father of one of the girls rushed to the school on 4 October on a tip from a local administrator of the neighbourhood where the family lived in Dicle (Pîran).
He took his nine-year-old daughter home, and told his wife that there was a rumour in the school about a teacher molesting the schoolgirls. The parents then took their daughter directly to the the gendarme station to make a statement.
Finally, four schoolgirls were taken to the Child Monitoring Centre in the city of Diyarbakır (some 40 miles from Dicle) to make a statement, where they and their families were kept waiting until late in the evening.
One of the mothers indicated that the girls were extremely reluctant to disclose any salient information in their statements, being too ashamed to talk about it to the child protection officer, who was a man, and terrified of accusing their teacher.
She was further alarmed when on the following day the mother of a boy in the same class called and told her some things her son had revealed. The boy’s mother went on to call other parents too because of the shocking nature of what her son had told her. Then she took the boy to the gendarme station to make a statement. She told him to tell everything he knew.
The parents of the boy were urged by the gendarmes to take him to the office of the prosecution, which they did, but they were told by the prosecutor that he would take the statements of all the students at a later date.
Nobody contacted them for several days, so on 8 October the parents of six of the students decided to go and see the prosecutor again. However, they were unhappy with their treatment there, as the prosecutor scolded them for addressing him informally, and did not listen properly to what they told him about the incidents at the school.
At this point a lawyer intervened on behalf of the families. He listened to the students who told him about what had actually happened at the school, then went to see the prosecutor. However, the prosecutor informed him that he was inclined to act on the original statements of the children, and was about to issue a legal notice that he had decided to drop the case.
Meanwhile, another mother, speaking to the Mezopotamya News Agency (MA), said that they had been told by the prosecutor to wait for three weeks for the gendarmes to bring them up to date about the situation.
“Why should we wait for three weeks while that man is at large?” she protested. “As a mother I want him arrested immediately. Let them take him and have our daughters make their statements, as they’re talking about it now. They should follow the law!”
She also strongly emphasised her confidence in their children and the things they said.
“We have confidence in our children. Why would they lie? Why would my daughter say, ‘He makes me sit on his lap’… and the other things? It makes me sick. I can’t even talk about it, I don’t want to talk about it.”
The teacher is said to have a much longer history of sexually harrassing children at the school he has been teaching at for eight years. He continues to retain his post despite the serious allegations voiced by the parents, and it is unclear whether there is even a small chance of having him prosecuted.